Are Some People “Born Addicts?”Q & A

Most people become addicted to drugs from excessive use over a long period of time. But listening to hundreds and hundreds of sober addicts tell their stories at 12-Step meetings convinced me that not all follow this pattern. A sizable minority, starting with several of my rehab mates who were second- and third-generation-alcoholics, described a different experience, which persuaded me that they were what I call “born addicts.”

That doesn’t mean they’re born under the influence of drugs, like some babies of active-addict mothers. Those babies may need to detox because their mothers abused drugs during pregnancy. “Born addicts,” on the other hand, are so highly pre-disposed to addiction genetically and grow up in such chaotic environments, they use alcohol or drugs addictively as soon as they are first introduced to them.

They all seem to tell the same story: their first use of alcohol or drugs was a transformative experience, motivating them to drink or drug compulsively in spite of often-immediate consequences.

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